“I only know in detail what her views are on the Home Office”. Ken Clarke said it. What on earth are Theresa May’s views? And what might be in her chancellor’s red box? There have been one or two clues...
DEATH TO THE NORTHERN POWERHOUSE?
With George Osborne will go one of the North’s biggest cabinet champions. During his time as Chancellor he worked hard to raise the profile of large northern cities and to divert Treasury funds their way, in an effort to redress Britain’s lopsided economy. A few days before the referendum he warned Liverpool that “the Northern Powerhouse was on the ballot paper”. It now looks like it was. Not only will the inevitable cuts affect northern jobs and its funding for the arts and science - but the new prime minister looks likely to turn her focus elsewhere. Theresa May has called for greater fairness in developing all Britain’s large cities - not just “one or even two of our great regional cities” (Manchester and Liverpool, we can presume).
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Theresa May has surprised people with a rather lefty take on the economy - one that “works for everyone, not just the privileged few”. But here she can claim to be consistent. She started her Tory career with a pitch to change the party’s image (“you know what people call us”, she said, “the Nasty Party”). In 2013, she criticized Britain’s reliance on financial services, and mourned the loss of jobs in manufacturing. (Just as well, really, since the city looks to be in quite some serious trouble after Brexit).
During her bid for Number 10 she identified some policy ideas:
- Workers on company boards
- Shareholder votes on executive pay binding
- Steps to block company takeovers, such as Pfizer’s failed bid for AstraZenica
- Companies to publish bonus targets and data on how much more they pay bosses than their employees
As some have said, these are not unlike the kinds of policies put forward by the Lib Dems or Labour in recent years - but some of them also look close to the protectionist policies that have recently played so well with the Right across Europe. Either way, May is firmly on the side of lower-paid workers - so many of whom voted Leave. “The only surprise”, she said “is that there is so much surprise in Westminster about the public’s appetite for change.” Change is coming.